Soft palate (velum)
The soft palate the soft portion of the roof of the mouth, lying behind the hard palate.
The velum performs two important roles in speech:
- The tongue body hits it in order to make the sounds [k], [ɡ], and [ŋ].
- It acts as the "gatekeeper" to the nasal cavity. Normally during speech, the velum is in its raised position, blocking off airflow through the nose. But during some sounds (the nasal sounds, like [m], [n], and [ŋ]) it lowers and allows air to flow through the nose.
Sounds that are made with the are called velar sounds.